poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Canadian Resolution Adopted at the UN: Women's Sexual and Reproductive Rights Reaffirmed

GENEVA, OTTAWA, April 20 /CNW/ - A Canadian led resolution on the elimination of violence against women was adopted by consensus today at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. Despite attempts by the
United States to weaken the language proposed by Canada, including language related to women's sexual rights, the Commission on Human Rights reaffirmed its support for the Beijing Platform of Action. The adopted resolution states that "... women have the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality...".

Sexual and reproductive health and rights received unprecedented attention at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights this year. During the discussion of economic, social and cultural rights, Paul Hunt, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, presented his annual report to the Commission, stating that sexual and reproductive health issues "are among the most sensitive and controversial in international human rights law, but they are also among the most important." United States, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all criticized Hunt's work. The United States then spearheaded an unsuccessful attempt to have a reference to the Special Rapporteur's report removed from the resolution on the right to health.

From Geneva, Suki Beavers of Action Canada for Population and Development, a Canadian NGO, praised the Special Rapporteur. She referred to his "integrity and commitment to advancing basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including sexual rights and reproductive rights, no matter how unpopular they might be to some.

The Commission is not a popularity contest, it is about ensuring that Governments meet their obligations to respect, protect and fulfill all human rights." Even the prohibition against extrajudicial killings of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, was opposed by a few countries. Despite the
opposition, the Swedish led resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions was again adopted, with a reference to State obligations to protect
against and investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings committed for any
discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation.

Although the annual session of the Commission has not yet finished, advocates and governments alike are already thinking about how these issues will be dealt with next year. Among those that will be in the spotlight will be the resolution on human rights and sexual orientation. Even though no country blocked the request by Brazil that the resolution on sexual orientation be considered by the Commission next year, if the 2004 session is any indication, this will be a difficult, but long overdue debate.


Friend testifies in transgender killing
The Associated Press
HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — The woman who revealed the biological identity of a transgender teenager to the three men on trial for killing her testified Tuesday that she urged the girl to flee a 2002 party before something bad happened.

Nicole Brown described an angry confrontation after heavy drinking at the late-night party that led to her following the teen into a bathroom and confirming the group's growing suspicions that their beautiful friend "Lida" was biologically male.

Eddie "Gwen" Araujo, who lived as a woman, was beaten, strangled and buried in a shallow grave later that night.

The killing has drawn national attention to the issue of violence against people whose sexual identity conflicts with their biology.

Nicole Brown said that Araujo was on her way toward the front door on the night of Oct. 3, 2002, when she was stopped by cries of "Where do you think you're going?


Massachusetts' Highest Court Is Asked to Delay Gay Marriage
BOSTON, April 20 — Seeking to keep same-sex marriages from taking place as scheduled on May 17, the head of a conservative Roman Catholic group filed a petition on Tuesday asking the state's highest court to keep gay marriages from occurring for at least two and a half years.

The petition, filed by C. J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, asks the Supreme Judicial Court to delay same-sex marriages until a constitutional amendment banning them could be voted on statewide, in November 2006 at the earliest. Lawmakers gave preliminary approval to the measure last month.

"I'm asking the court to allow the democratic process to run its course," said Mr. Doyle, who contends that as "a voter and a citizen," he would be adversely affected if same-sex marriages were already occurring before he had a chance to vote on the amendment.

"It would also place an onerous burden on proponents of traditional marriage" in their fight to pass the amendment, Mr. Doyle said, because they "would be in the invidious position of rolling back gay rights."


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